News / Arts & Entertainment

Popular Washington Monument Pays Tribute to Fire Dogs

Popular Washington Monument Pays Tribute to Fire Dogsi
X
Shelley Schlender
June 11, 2014 2:54 PM
Washington, DC, is famous for monuments that honor presidents or heroism during war. But in a recent contest sponsored by the Washington Post, the most popular monument is not on the National Mall in front of the Capital, but downtown in front of a fire station. And it is neither a giant in height nor reputation. Instead, the life-size monument depicts a Labrador retriever, gazing up at a fireman in a rumpled uniform, who smiles back at his faithful canine partner. Shelley Schlender reports.
Shelley Schlender
Washington, DC, is famous for monuments that honor presidents or heroism during war.

But in a recent contest sponsored by the Washington Post, the most popular monument is not on the National Mall in front of the Capital, but downtown in front of a fire station. And it is neither a giant in height nor reputation.

Instead, the life-size monument depicts a Labrador retriever, gazing up at a fireman in a rumpled uniform, who smiles back at his faithful canine partner.  

“It’s a pretty great honor to be the top monument in DC. It’s quite cool," said Austin Weishel, 25, an artist who lives in Loveland, Colorado, who created the National Fire Dog sculpture. "There’s no other words to describe it."

Weishel was guided toward art by a disability that makes it hard to read, a condition called dyslexia.

“I have a very severe form of it," he said. "You read a little bit slower. Some numbers and words jump around. You may look at it correctly in your mind, but if you speak it or try to write it again, it will be jumbled. So it just kind of mixes up in your mind.”

Compared to his struggle with reading words, Weishel says making art was easy, especially sculpting in clay, so he decided to excel at that.

“The people that are dyslexic are a lot more driven sometimes, on certain areas, because they had to overcome that challenge," he said.

In high school, Weishel refined his skills in clay.  He also worked at a bronze foundry, where fiery furnaces heat stone cauldrons filled with metal ingots into a white hot, glowing soup.  As the metal cools to a bright orange, it's poured into plaster casts. Once the bronze solidifies, it’s on its way to becoming a statue. With this new knowledge, Weishel began transforming his small clay statues into bronze.

In addition to art, Weishel pursued another passion, one that involves a different side of fire. He became a volunteer firefighter.  

“I always was attracted to the fire department," he said. "I lived in Chicago right next to a fire department.”

When he was 19, Weishel’s Colorado fire department helped him combine his passions by asking him to make a statue.
 
“They said, 'Hey, we’re doing a new museum and we’d like you to do a piece of artwork for us," he recalled.
 
Weishel’s first life-size statue depicts a fireman, reaching out to a child.  It's titled “Follow your Dream.” After seeing the statue, another Colorado firefighter followed his own dream.  He suggested that Weishel make a sculpture honoring firemen who team up with dogs trained to sniff for flammable chemicals after a suspicious fire.

The statue pays tribute to dogs like Holly, a friendly Labrador retriever. She helps arson investigator Mike Manzo search through houses for flammable residues after suspicious fires.

“She trusts me at fire scenes to search areas that most people probably wouldn’t go into," Manzo said. "They’re a very useful tool to get through a fire scene fairly quick, where a person with a mechanical detector...in place of a canine nose, it would take hours.”
 
Weishel’s fire dog monument is titled, “From Ashes to Answers,” and Manzo says it accurately depicts the teamwork that a man and a dog need, in order to find answers to an arson crime.
 
“The canine is looking up at the firefighter’s eyes, and their, their bond," Manzo said. "Even at a fire scene, the dog is looking for the handler to see what are we [going to] do next.”
 
Since bronze can last thousands of years, Weishel hopes his sculpture will be a timeless testament to his passion for art, and the bond between arson investigators and their dogs.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

"Soul Lounge" host Shawna Renee catches up with soul singer and songwriter Russell Taylor to hear what he’s been up to since winning the VH1 "You Oughta Know" title in 2013. She also convinces him to share a few songs from his album "War of Hearts."